BEIJING – A cotton seed carried by China’s spacecraft Chang’e to the far side of the moon is the first ever to have sprouted on the moon, state-owned Xinhua agency reported on Tuesday.
According to scientists from Chongqing University in southwestern China, Chang’e, which successfully made the first-ever soft landing on the dark side of the moon on Jan. 3, had carried cotton, rape, potato and arabidopsis seeds, along with fruit fly eggs and some yeast, to form a simple mini biosphere, the Xinhua report said.
Images sent back by Chang’e 4 showed only a cotton seed sprouting, while the other seeds did not show any growth.
Conditions on the moon, with surface temperatures often exceeding 100 degrees Celsius (212 degrees Fahrenheit) during the day and dropping to -100 degrees Celsius at night, along with greater solar radiation and lower gravity than that on the Earth, are not conducive to sustain life.
However, these sprouts are not the first to grow outside the Earth’s atmosphere, as a NASA team had grown zinnia flowers at the International Space Station in 2016.
On Monday, China National Space Administration vice president Wu Yanhua had announced China’s plans to extend its space exploration program with a Chang’e 5 lunar mission planned for late 2019 and it’s first Mars exploration mission in 2020.